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Opinion

Mike Ashley raising the asking price for Newcastle United has had surprisingly little coverage

3 days ago
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One small crumb of comfort I could find from the takeover collapse, was the thought of Mike Ashley stamping his feet in Miami.

The Newcastle United owner reportedly still across in the States, where he fled to when the virus took hold and after a series of serious PR gaffes in relation to the football club and retail empire.

I imagined his face as he found out he wouldn’t be receiving £300m+ into his back pocket after all.

Mike Ashley having pretended for 12 years or so that he was trying to sell the club and then when he at last does genuinely try to sell Newcastle United, actually signs off the deal, it then crumbles to dust due to events out of his control.

The fact Ashley had finally decided to genuinely try and sell NUFC, tells you for sure that he had pressing reasons to do so, undoubtedly having that £300m+ earmarked to prop up his struggling retail empire and / or try and take advantage of those who are struggling even more, to snap up bargain bonus brands / businesses.

What a shame that his carefully laid plans have been thwarted.

For somebody so used to getting his own way, I wouldn’t have fancied being one of the underlings in his vicinity when Mike Ashley first heard the news.

In typical Ashley fashion, Newcastle fans found out the NUFC owner’s response to the takeover collapse, via Sky Sports quoting gofer Lee Charnley.

Keith Downie of Sky Sports via Twitter:

The Sky Sports man reporting Lee Charnley Friday morning ‘statement’:

“We acknowledge yesterday’s statement [from the Saudi PIF backed bidders].

“Never say never, but to be clear Mike Ashley is 100% committed to this deal (sale).

“However our current focus must now be on supporting Steve Bruce in the transfer market and on the preparations for the new season.”

So, two parts to this ‘statement’…

Firstly, some empty meaningless words about the transfer market and preparing for the new season.

Secondly, he is still desperate (100%!) to sell the club.

One small problem maybe with that second bit (I don’t think it is even worth wasting a second on the first part, you would have to be seriously deranged to believe Mike Ashley will do anything of consequence to ensure the club / team is in any fit state to be ready for the 2020/21 season kicking off in six weeks time).

In a report from The Athletic on Friday they revealed the following:

Ashley asked for more money after the June 26 completion deadline had expired, raising the £300 million price, although Staveley told The Athletic “that is absolutely not the issue”

This revelation of Mike Ashley raising the asking price for Newcastle United has had surprisingly little coverage.

I can believe that Ashley asking for £10m / £30m / £50m more may well possibly have seen the Saudi PIF take it in their stride as they were so far down the route of preparing to buy the club.

However, what does this tell us about the mindset about Mike Ashley and more importantly, how realistic it is to expect the club will still be sold?

So Ashley has it in his head that he has an asset that is getting more and more valuable.

From the point where he agreed and signed off the £300m sale in April, the NUFC owner believes that three or four months later the football club is worth a lot more???

If Mike Ashley honestly thinks this then we are doomed to have him at St James Park for the very long-term.

I think the Saudi PIF deal was a bit of a one-off.

Almost certainly paying more than what the club is actually worth, having a long-term strategy including significant extra investment (Amanda Staveley said £250m extra to be spent in the first few years) that would eventually potentially return them a profit, whilst in the meantime maybe a touch of sportswashing as a bonus.

I don’t see anybody else willing to pay the original price the Saudi PIF agreed with Mike Ashley, never mind this extra value that Ashley has now got in his head.

As we well know, any penny spent in these 13 years on the infrastructure of Newcastle United has been so begrudgingly agreed by Mike Ashley.

A coat of paint instead of the state of the art (described as essential by Ashley back when announced, if NUFC were going to be able to compete) new training ground announced in 2013 that was going to be built ASAP, no investment in St James Park, no proper investment in the Academy.

Mike Ashley is the type who would spend nothing on the upkeep of his house for 13 years and yet still think it has rocketed in value, despite the garden being a tip, a new roof needed, new decoration needed throughout, new windows etc etc.

We have an ageing squad with, if we are honest, very few high value players.

Apart from the value of ASM’s potential, you have Almiron and probably Lascelles you would get decent prices for, but after that? It is not to say the other players are all poor, especially in the case of Martin Dubravka, but their potential transfer value probably doesn’t match their value to this current NUFC team.

Once again we are back in a position where even if Mike Ashley is now still wanting to sell NUFC, he will be asking for far too much cash from any other potential buyer.

I’m guessing he could be insisting on £100m+ more than the actual true value of Newcastle United as things stand.

It is laughable to believe that a normal buyer / investor would be willing to pay that AND then be putting up the essential money to spend on the infrastructure and squad, that have been starved of proper investment for years by Mike Ashley.

The NUFC owner wants all the help possible from government and landlords etc to help his retail empire to cope with the impact of the virus, yet somehow magically Newcastle United is worth more???

He even had the cheek to get the government to pay most of his NUFC staff via the furlough scheme, yet now says his asset (the club) is worth a lot more money.

Talk about the FCB wanting to have his cake and eat it!

Anybody buying the club would do so in a scenario where we don’t even have a clue when fans will properly be allowed into St James Park again.

Plans for some fans to be allowed back in PL grounds in October are even looking doubtful now, with numbers of virus cases going the wrong way in so many parts of the country.

No / minimal fans, no / few corporate customers on matchdays, possible lowering of sponsorship and broadcasting income due to the virus impact…

Yet Mike Ashley still thinks his golden goose is getting ever fatter.

The Saudi PIF were our ticket out of this Mike Ashley nightmare, unless they come back in via some other successful route, I don’t see Ashley getting his ridiculous valuation from somebody else.

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